Choi Jong Bum was facing five charges stemming from a domestic incident with then-girlfriend Hara, and today the court found him guilty on four of the five charges, yet he was sentenced to just probation for his crimes.
Choi Jong Bum received a prison sentence of one year and six months, suspended for three years of probation. This means that if he commits an offence during the three-year probation period, he will serve out his prison sentence for one year and six months.
The justification for the sentence was rather depressing but also predictable.
Justice Oh stated, “Mr. Choi was the first to initiate the breakup. After getting drunk, he went to the victim’s house and found the victim sleeping. He woke her up and complained about the victim’s behaviour before the situation severely and suddenly devolved into a violent physical fight. Looking at police photos from the incident, the victim was also severely scratched. We recognize that the victim was injured from violence that surpassed what could be called self-defence.”
With regards to the charge that Choi Jong Bum had threatened to send a video to a media outlet, the judge said, “Our view of the situation is that Mr. Choi was angry about the injuries he saw on his own body and told the victim that he would send a video that would make it impossible for her to pursue an entertainment career.”
The court found Choi Jong Bum guilty of four of the five charges that had been laid against him. He was acquitted of the charge of filming the victim’s body without permission. Justice Oh said, “The victim did not give her express consent, but it does not appear as though the defendant went against the victim’s will.”
In their assessment of the case, the court concluded, “During the breakup process with his lover, Mr. Choi caused injuries to the victim as well as receiving injuries on his own face. He was angry about this and threatened to contact a media outlet to end the victim’s career. By making her kneel and other such behavior, he caused serious suffering to the female celebrity victim.”
To be clear, the judge is saying that the ex instigated the confrontation, then it escalated into a physical fight between a man and a woman, he made her kneel and apologize for it, and then threatened to send a sex tape to the press. However, he essentially gets a pass for all of it because Hara fought back and because he might’ve been mad after getting scratched on his face.
In other words, her ex’s victim act worked exactly as planned for Korea’s laws, and it may even get Hara probation as well.
Right, as I covered before, Hara also being charged was inevitable due to the nature of Korea’s (wonky, IMO) self-defense laws and the fact that he coincidentally needed the exact amount of recovery time necessary (for scratches) to nix that being a valid defense for her.
Understandably, Hara’s reps were unsatisfied with the outcome.
Goo Hara’s legal representatives issued a response to the statement that said, “The court has acknowledged that the defendant is guilty of intimidation, assault, coercion, and property damage, but has given him a suspended sentence. Society needs tougher punishments in order to eradicate the kind of criminal behavior that Choi Jong Bum committed. We hope that during the appeals trial, the defendant will be appropriately sentenced according to the weight of his crime.”
I’m not optimistic that anything will change for the reasons I’ve stated and have been stating. It’s a cynical and pessimistic view, but one that generally wins out in these matters.